Housing crisis: Public land ‘flogged off to developers’ and unaffordable for nurses warning

Four out of five homes built by private developers on former NHS land will cost more than nurses can afford, a think tank has warned.

  • 59 sites sold under government’s public land scheme to boost housing supply
  • Average sale price 10 times annual salary of band 5 nurse
  • RCN warns that 40% of nurses living in London will be priced out of capital by 2021

Four out of five homes built by private developers on former NHS land will cost more than nurses can afford, a think tank has warned

Picture: iStock

Fifty-nine sites have been sold so far under the government’s public land sale scheme, which is aimed at boosting housing supply.

But research by the New Economics Foundation of the sites found the large majority will be unaffordable to nurses, and the profession would be priced out completely of such  developments in London.

Ring-fenced national stock

The think tank found the average expected sale price of £315,279 of the homes would be ten times the annual salary of a band 5 nurse.

And where they could afford the mortgage repayments, a nurse would have to save for an average of 53 years to afford the deposit.

The New Economics Foundation is calling for the creation of a People’s Land Bank, a ring-fenced, national stock of publicly-owned land for the development of ‘genuinely affordable housing’. 

The RCN has previously warned that 40% of nurses living in London say soaring housing costs mean they will be priced out of the capital by 2021.

‘Producing tiny amount of affordable housing’

New Economics Foundation housing lead Joe Beswick said: ‘These local NHS sites are community assets – they should be used to deliver community benefits. Public land – which is owned by all of us – is being flogged off to developers so that they can make massive profits, while producing a tiny amount of affordable housing.

‘By selling off public land to the highest bidder, the government is missing a chance to start solving the housing crisis.’

A 2016 survey of 1,400 nurses by RCN London found 66% said the cost of housing had caused them to consider leaving London for work, while  40% said they will probably or definitely leave the capital by 2021.

The New Economics Foundation report showed the average expected sale price for the houses in London would be £561,589.

‘Abject failure’ of policy

RCN London director Bernell Bussue said the report laid bare an ‘abject failure’ of government housing policy.

‘The lack of affordable housing is forcing more and more nurses out of London, pushing them into debt and helping to drive a recruitment and retention crisis in the capital’s hospitals.

'The government, NHS trusts and the Mayor of London must now stop developers taking advantage of vital public land, which belongs to all of us, and ensure that the provision of affordable housing becomes a true priority.'

A government spokesperson said: ‘Since April 2010 there have been more than 357,000 affordable homes provided in England, but we’re aware that more needs to be done, which is why we’re investing over £9 billion in affordable housing.

‘For NHS staff in particular, we announced plans in October last year to give first refusal on affordable housing schemes built on NHS land sold for development.’

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